These Examples Of Blackface Around The World Prove We Have A Long Way To Go

Incidents of blackface at the 2014 World Cup predictably stirred up a storm of outrage. But now that the anger has settled, and FIFA has launched an investigation, we’re still left searching for an explanation of how and why this offensive practice continues in societies around the world.

Blackface in the United States has a unique history tied to the legacy of American slavery and minstrel shows that have had a major effect on race relations in the country thereafter. But the troubling practice is not limited to the states, it is also used prevalently in countries around the world.

To shed some light on the continued use of blackface, we’ve gathered some recent modern-day examples that prove we still have a lot of work to do to tackle racism around the world.

The Vienna Ball: Austria, 2014

Kim Kardashian was accosted at The Vienna Ball by Austrian “comedian” Chris Stephan in blackface for what Kardashian called a “sick joke.” Stephan mimicked Kanye West saying “it’s me, it’s me.”

Haribo Gummy Licorice: Germany, 2014

The Haribo candy company pulled “Blackface” gummy licorice off shelves after a firestorm of international customer complaints.

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Tweet translation: “Multiculturalism, colonial legacy or the slave trade? # haribo skipper mix makes me think about Denmark and my Danish heritage.”

Zwarte Piet of St. Nicholas Day: Netherlands, 1850’s onward.

Since the mid 1900’s, annual Christmas celebrations of St. Nicholas Day have almost always included Dutch citizens dressed in blackface as “Zwarte Piet” or “Black Pete,” Santa Claus’ dark-skinned helper.

In July, a Dutch court ruled that Black Peter perpetuates a negative stereotype, and that Amsterdam “must rethink its involvement in holiday celebrations involving him.”

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Angela Merkel at a Three King’s Day celebration: Germany, 2013

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was photographed posing with children in blackface, caroling out front of Berlin’s chancellery building. It’s not uncommon in Germany for carolers to darken their faces when dressed as the Magi, believed to be one of the Three Wise Men who visited Jesus at his birth.

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UNICEF advertisement: Germany, 2007

UNICEF Germany ad campaign featured white children in blackface demonstrating their “solidarity with their contemporaries in Africa.” The captions alongside the photographs made comparisons between the German students and African children without access to schools. One caption read: “I’m waiting for my last day in school, the children in Africa are still waiting for their first one.” Another: “In Africa, many kids would be glad to worry about school.”

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Jackson Jive: Australia, 2009

The Australian variety show “Hey Hey, It’s Saturday” ended in 1999 but returned in the early 2000’s for a reunion special and featured a “Jackson 5” cover group called “Jackson Jive.” As if the name weren’t bad enough, all but one of the six white Australians donned blackface and Afro wigs. The exception being the lead singer specifically impersonating Michael Jackson, who wore whiteface below his Afro wig.

American Jazz Singer Harry Connick Jr. happened to be a judge on the episode and voiced his displeasure by awarding them a score of zero and commenting, “Man, if they turned up looking like that in the United States, it’d be Hey Hey There’s No More Show.”

Bubble Sisters: South Korea, 2003

The “Bubble Sisters” are a South Korean female, pop music group who don blackface. The video below says everything you need to know.

Lima’s Negro Mama: Peru, 2013

Negro Mama” is a blackface character featured on the popular peruvian show “The Humor Special.”

Jonah From Tonga: Australia, 2014

Celebrated caucasian comedian Chris Lilley stars in his new show as “Jonah From Tonga” in what people are now calling “brownface.”

Crocetta Baseball Club: Italy, 2014

An Italian baseball team, the Crocetta Baseball Club released a YouTube Video parodyof a scene from the 1989 film “Major League.” The original scene features Wesley Snipes, however the Crocetta version ends with the line of a white team member in blackface.

Questlove: Iggy Azalea’s ‘Fancy’ Is A Game-Changer

Questlove says black people have to come to terms with the changing game of hip-hop, and that includes Iggy Azalea.

In an interview with Time published Wednesday, The Roots drummer and general arbiter of hip-hop, discussed the art of cover songs, VH1’s new show “SoundClash” (of which he is executive producer), and the controversy over white female rapper Iggy Azalea’s reign in hip-hop world.

Speaking to the news outlet on whether he is pro-Iggy or anti-Iggy, Questlove said:

You know, we as black people have to come to grips that hip-hop is a contagious culture. If you love something, you gotta set it free. I will say that “Fancy,” above any song that I’ve ever heard or dealt with, is a game-changer in that fact that we’re truly going to have to come to grips with the fact that hip-hop has spread its wings.

[…]

I’m not going to lie to you, I’m torn between the opinions on the Internet, but I’mma let Iggy be Iggy. It’s not even politically correct dribble. The song is effective. I’m in the middle of the approximation of the enunciation, I’ll say. Part of me hopes she grows out of that and says it with her regular dialect — I think that would be cooler. But, yeah, “Fancy” is the song of the summer.

Azalea has been the subject of much debate for her highly criticized ”appropriation of blackness” and controversial comments about race.

In a piece for Salon, Brittney Cooper, an assistant professor of women’s and gender studies and Africana studies at Rutgers University, explained that her particular issue with Azalea is the artist’s lack of cultural awareness.

"I resent Iggy Azalea for her co-optation and appropriation of sonic Southern Blackness, particularly the sonic Blackness of Southern Black women," she wrote in a piece published July 15. "Everytime she raps the line ‘tell me how you luv dat,’ in her song ‘Fancy,’ I want to scream ‘I don’t love dat!’ I hate it. The line is offensive because this Australian born-and-raised white girl almost convincingly mimics the sonic register of a downhome Atlanta girl [all sic]," she wrote.

(Source: The Huffington Post)

Jada Pinkett Smith: There’s An ‘Epidemic In Regards To The Treatment Of Women’

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Jada Pinkett Smith recently spoke out on Facebook about Jada, a 16-year-old girlwhose horrifying alleged rape was mocked on social media. The 42-year-old actress, however, didn’t stop at Facebook to show her support for the young woman and raise awareness about sexual assault.

US Weekly reported that on July 20, Pinkett Smith shared a personal connection to young Jada’s experience with the press.

Speaking with reporters at a Television Critics Association panel, Pinkett Smith said that her own niece was given date rape drugs around the same time that Jada’s alleged attackers drugged and raped her:

My niece was given a date rape drug that weekend. She’s 20-years-old — thank God nothing happened because she was with some responsible guys that took care of her. She was safe because she was with a group of friends that realized — she said, “Oh, my God, I can’t feel my.. ” and she started losing consciousness. Thank God the people she was with put her in a room, closed the door and she didn’t come to for three and a half hours.

Acknowledging that women are by no means at fault for such horrendous acts, Pinkett Smith encouraged young girls to be safe and smart in the wake of “an epidemic going on out here in regards to the treatment of women.”

Pinkett Smith described how she’s teaching her 13-year-old daughter, Willow, to be confident and assertive.

"What I do with Willow is I give her the opportunity to be empowered by [putting] herself first," Pinkett Smith told US Weekly. “Because when you allow a person to be an individual and you allow a person to have power within and have confidence on who they are, you’ll never have to look into the eyes of a man and question whether it’s a ‘yes’ or a ‘no.’”

Of course, being empowered doesn’t guarantee a woman’s safety from assault, but it’s certainly important to arm young women with knowledge and decision-making skills.We stand with both Jadas.

Eric Garner’s Family And Friends Call For Justice At Funeral That ‘Never Should Have Been’

NEW YORK — Eric Garner was a son, husband, father of six and grandfather of two. As his family wept over his coffin Wednesday evening, the Rev. Al Sharpton took to the pulpit.

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Esaw Garner, wife of Eric Garner, cries Wednesday during her husband’s funeral.

“We should not act as though we should be here today,” he told the few hundred mourners packed inside Brooklyn’s Bethel Baptist Church, many waving paper fans across their faces to fend off the heat. This funeral, he said, “never should have been in the first place.”

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“And with all of our faith, you also must have courage to speak truth,” Sharpton said, his voice crescendoing. “Yes, God will make a way, but God expects some things out of us. And when you can, in broad daylight, choke one of God’s children, God expects us to stand up, and demand justice! And fairness!”

The crowd rose to its feet and clapped. There were shouts of “Talk about it!” and “Amen!”

Garner died last week after police officers in Staten Island tried to arrest him, and one officer used an illegal chokehold to bring him to the ground. He was 43.

“Let’s not play games with this,” Sharpton said. “You don’t need no training to stop choking a man saying, ‘I can’t breathe!’ You don’t need no cultural orientation to stop choking a man who says, ‘I can’t breathe!’ You need to be prosecuted and you need to be put away for a while!”

“Twenty years ago, Ernest Sayon, right in that same district, died,” Sharpton continued, referring to another Staten Island man who died at the hands of the NYPD in 1994. “We marched then. But there’s a difference this time. This time, there was a video!”

"Where’s Ramsey Orta? Come here, brother." A young man walked his way through the crowd and joined Sharpton at the pulpit.

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Sharpton and Orta.

"This young man showed more respect for the law, for human life, for decency than the police and the EMS workers. They ought to follow his example. He turned around and said, ‘This is wrong, I’m gonna video it.’ This city ought to thank God that when the police and EMS failed us, there was a Ramsey Orta!"

Orta then left the pulpit to loud cheers, and was embraced by Garner’s family in the front row.

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Gwen Carr, Eric Garner’s mother, hugs Ramsey Orta.

"On Friday morning at 10:30," Sharpton continued, "we have an appointment with the United States Attorney’s office, civil rights division. We want the federal government to come in. Why? Because that’s how Abner Louima’s police went to jail."

Abner Louima was brutalized and sodomized by police in 1997. Unlike so many other high-profile cases in which the NYPD either hurt or killed an unarmed black man, the police in Louima’s case were prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office instead of a local district attorney, and police involved served jail time.

“‘But Rev. Al, how do we know it was intentional?’” Sharpton continued. “If [Garner] said on tape 11 times, ‘I can’t breathe,’ when does it become intentional? On the third ‘I can’t breathe’? Or maybe on the sixth ‘I can’t breathe’? At some point during that time, you made up your mind that you didn’t care about him! And your partners made up your mind!”

"And then you file a report that he was not in distress when the tape shows he was laying lifeless," Sharpton said, referring to a police reportTuesday that said Garner wasn’t in distress before his death. The report also made no mention of the chokehold.

"You think we’re not gonna fight this? We’re ready for the long haul. We’re not gonna stop until we get justice."

Sharpton then turned toward the assorted elected officials seated in the church. Minutes earlier, Public Advocate Letitia James had spoken, calling for all police street encounters to be videotaped, and for each of the thousands of complaints made to the Civilian Complaint Review Board to be reviewed.

"You’re in City Hall now," Sharpton told the politicians. "Now we want you to give justice a chance."

"It’s not about training, it’s about justice," Sharpton added, referring to NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton’s remarks this week that every NYPD officer will be retrained on the use of force. “Hold them accountable for what they did!”

Sharpton then left the pulpit to screams of “Thank you!” and “Amen!” After a few more speakers, and some remarks from the family, Garner’s coffin was taken out of the church and into a hearse waiting outside.

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eric garner

As the family left the service, some lightning in the distance mixed with the flashes of what seemed like a hundred cameras. Reporters crowded the street, as did police and protesters.

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Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, and Garner’s son, Eric Snipes (left), leave Garner’s funeral on Wednesday.

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Garner’s family, friends and neighbors had spent the hot summer day shuffling in and out of the Brooklyn church to pay their respects. They remembered Garner as a good father and friend.

Earl Simms choked back tears outside the church. He’d seen Garner the day before he died.

"First it was sadness, now it’s becoming anger," Simms said, adding that he hoped the anger over Garner’s death wouldn’t turn into unrest.

"The police need to pay," he said. "If the cops don’t pay, this will keep happening." Simms said cops on Staten island are "racist," and constantly harass black men like him and Garner.

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Young protesters hold signs outside Eric Garner’s viewing on Wednesday. 

Estelle Smith, an elderly neighbor of Garner, described him as a “teddy bear that didn’t hurt anybody.” But that didn’t stop cops, she said, from harassing Garner all the time.

"Staten Island is very prejudiced," she said. "Once they get to know you, they lean on you. They come after you constantly for anything."

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Another protester outside Garner’s viewing Wednesday.

Police officers attempted to arrest Garner outside a Staten Island store July 17 for selling untaxed cigarettes.

“I didn’t do shit!” Garner can be seen shouting at cops in a viral video of the incident. He’d been arrested multiple times for selling untaxed cigarettes over the years. “I was just minding my own business.”

“Every time you see me, you want to mess with me,” he added. “I’m tired of it. … Please just leave me alone!”

(Warning: This video contains content that may be disturbing to some readers.)

When officers attempted to detain him, Garner resisted. The video then shows one officer putting Garner in a chokehold— a maneuver that was banned by the NYPD more than 20 years ago, but has been allegedly used by cops more than 1,000 times in the last 5 years.

The chokehold brings Garner to the ground, where the 350-pound asthmatic man can be heard screaming, “I can’t breathe!” numerous times. Eventually, Garner’s body goes limp.

Garner’s death has spurred outrage among civil rights leaders and police reform advocates. His death, they argue, is the result of the systemic brutality by NYPD officers against low-income New Yorkers, particularly blacks and Latinos. Ed Josey, the local representative of the NAACP, told the Staten Island Advance that Garner’s death was a “modern-day lynching.”

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Ellisha Flagg, sister of Eric Garner, center, leads demonstrators on a march towards the 120th Precinct following a Tuesday vigil demanding justice for her brother.

Garner’s death has also put Police Commissioner Bratton’s controversial use of “broken windows” policing back in the spotlight. It’s a policing strategy — first championed by Bratton during his first stint as commissioner in the 1990s — that has cops aggressively target low-level offenders, such as subway dancers and panhandlers, in an effort to curb more serious crime. Critics argue, however, that it’s not only ineffective, but also unfairly targets minorities. Communities United for Police Reform called Garner’s arrest “yet another example of unnecessary police encounters resulting from broken windows-style policing that targets New Yorkers of color — in this case escalating with fatal consequences.”

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NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, left, and Mayor Bill de Blasio, right, at a press conference last week about the death of Eric Garner.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was elected with a mandate to reform the NYPD, appointed Bratton at the beginning of this year. De Blasio, currently on vacation in Italy, has said a full investigation into Garner’s death is needed. He also called Garner’s family to offer his condolences.

The officer seen in the video putting Garner into a chokehold, Daniel Pantaleo, has been stripped of his badge and gun and placed on desk duty. Another officer involved has been taken off street patrol, but still has his gun and badge. Prosecutors and NYPD Internal Affairs, meanwhile, are conducting an investigation into the incident. The four EMS workers who responded to the scene have also been placed on modified duty.

The medical examiner’s office has yet to determine the exact cause of Garner’s death.

The NYPD Has A Long History Of Killing Unarmed Black Men

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Eric Garner was a 43-year-old father of six and grandfather of two. The tall, 400-pound man, who was known around his Staten Island neighborhood as a “gentle giant” nicknamed “Big E,” was approached Thursday outside a New York City store by a group of NYPD officers who accused him of selling contraband cigarettes. “I didn’t do shit!” Garner can be seen telling cops in a video of the incident. “I was just minding my own business.”

“Every time you see me, you want to mess with me,” he added. “I’m tired of it … Please just leave me alone!”

Cops say they saw Garner selling cigarettes outside the store. Other witnesses, however, said he’d just finished breaking up a fight. He had no cigarettes on him, nor in his car, his family told the Daily News.

But the officers didn’t leave Garner alone. Instead they tried to arrest him. Visibly upset at what was unfolding, Garner resisted. “Don’t touch me,” he said.

It’s then that an officer can be seen in the video putting Garner — who suffered from chronic asthma, sleep apnea and diabetes — into a tight, illegal chokehold. Garner falls to the ground, where, numerous times, he tells officers he can’t breathe.

Then, his body goes limp. (Warning: This video contains content that may be disturbing to some readers. Story continues below.)

Officials say Garner has a history of arrests for selling untaxed cigarettes. In the coming days and weeks, conflicting reports about the circumstances leading to Garner’s death will likely surface. But even if Garner had prior charges and even if he resisted arrest on Thursday, he’ll never have a chance to defend himself.

There will be anger. Rallies. Posters and T-shirts featuring Garner’s face. Memorials. Statements by politicians. Lawsuits.

It’s a familiar course of events. NYPD officers have a long history of killing unarmed individuals. They’re rarely punished for their actions. And the majority of their victims, like Garner, are black men.

Earlier this week marked the 50th anniversary of the death of James Powell, a 15-year-old black student who was shot and killed by a white police officer outside a Harlem apartment building. Powell’s death sparked a series of riots across the country in what came to be known as the “long, hot summer.”

As City Councilman Jumaane D. Williams pointed out in a statement following Garner’s death, not much has improved since then. “Garner joins a list that every male of more color in New York City knows they are a candidate for and every mother of more color dreads,” he said.

Below are the stories of some of the men (and boys) on that list.

Nicholas Heyward Jr.

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On Sept. 27, 1994, 13-year-old Nicholas Heyward Jr. was playing cops and robbers inside the stairwell of a Brooklyn apartment building. Officer Brian George mistook the boy’s toy gun for a real gun and shot him in the stomach, killing him. Then-Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, who is now facing a range of potential charges regarding his use of public funds, declined to press charges against George.

Amadou Diallo

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Demonstrators join a rally in New York to protest the police officers’ acquittal.

On Feb. 4, 1999, four NYPD officers in the Bronx fired 41 shots at a 22-year-old immigrant from Guinea named Amadou Diallo. The officers thought he had a gun. It turned out to be a wallet. Diallo, who was unarmed and had committed no crime, was hit by 19 bullets and died, setting off large protests across the city. The four officers involved were all white and were all acquitted of any wrongdoing.

Malcolm Ferguson

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On March 1, 2000, just a few days after a jury acquitted the four police officers who killed Amadou Diallo, an undercover cop shot and killed 23-year-old Malcolm Ferguson at his Bronx home. The shooting took place three blocks from the site of Diallo’s death, and Ferguson had been arrested the previous week for protesting the officers’ acquittal in that case. He had seven prior arrests on his record, mainly for dealing drugs. The incident was deemed an accident, and the officer who killed Ferguson, Louis Rivera, was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Patrick Moses Dorismond

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Mourners honor Dorismond at City Hall Park.

Patrick Moses Dorismond, a father of two, was killed by an undercover NYPD officer on March 16, 2000. According to police, Dorismond had become belligerent when the cop, who was with some of his partners, asked him where he could buy some marijuana in the neighborhood. It’s unclear who threw the first punch, but a scuffle ensued, and one of the officers, Anthony Vasquez, ultimately shot Dorismond in the chest, killing him. A friend of Dorismond’s, who was also involved in the fight, claimed the undercover officers never identified themselves as police. A grand jury declined to indict Vasquez.

Ousmane Zongo

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Mourners carry the casket containing Zongo’s body.

On May 22, 2003, Officer Bryan Conroy, disguised as a postal worker, raided a counterfeit CD/DVD operation at the same warehouse where 43-year-old Ousmane Zongo, an immigrant from Guinea, worked repairing musical instruments. When Zongo encountered the cop, Conroy brandished his weapon and Zongo ran. The chase led to a dead end, where Conroy shot Zongo four times. NYPD officials later admitted that Zongo had nothing to do with the counterfeit operation. Conroy received no jail time. He was sentenced to five years of probation and lost his job with the NYPD.

Tim Stansbury

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On Jan. 24, 2004, 19-year-old Tim Stansbury was shot by Officer Richard Neri on the roof of a building in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Stansbury, a McDonald’s employee who was working toward his high school diploma, died. A grand jury declined to indict Neri, who later admitted to pulling the trigger unintentionally. He was permanently stripped of his gun and given a 30-day suspension.

Sean Bell

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In the early morning hours of his wedding day, Nov. 25, 2006, Sean Bell was celebrating his bachelor party with two friends at a Queens strip club, which a group of officers was investigating for alleged prostitution. An argument broke out outside the club between one of Bell’s friends and another man, and one of them allegedly said he had a gun. Officer Gescard Isnora (who is also black) reportedly followed Bell and his friends to Bell’s car upon hearing this, and approached the front of the car. Bell accelerated, striking Isnora. In response, Isnora and other officers fired 50 shots at Bell and two of his friends. Bell died, his friends were seriously wounded, and three of the cops went to trial for manslaughter. Each was found not guilty, and no gun was recovered from Bell’s car.

Ramarley Graham

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Graham’s father leans over his son’s casket.

NYPD Officer Richard Haste shot and killed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham in his grandmother’s bathroom in the Bronx on Feb. 2, 2012. Haste had allegedly been responding to reports over police radio that Graham had a gun, but all he had on him was a small bag of marijuana. A grand jury decided not to indict Haste for the shooting.

Tamon Robinson

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On April 12, 2012, 27-year-old Tamon Robinson ran away from cops after he allegedly stole paving stones from a construction site. (Later, friends said he had permission to take the stones.) During the chase, cops say Robinson ran into their police car. Witnesses, however, say officers intentionally mowed down Robinson, before bouncing him off the hood of the car. Robinson died of his injuries six days later. No charges have been filed against the police involved.

Kimani Gray

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Kimani Gray, 16, was shot and killed by two police officers in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn on March 9, 2013. The officers allege that Gray pulled a gun on them first, but eyewitnesses dispute the account that Gray was armed. Neither has been charged, and one of the officers, Sgt. Mourad Mourad, received a Cop of the Year award from the NYPD this April.

(Source: The Huffington Post)

Elizabeth Ann Thompson: 5 Subjects White People Should Never Initiate in a Conversation With People of Color

It used to be that most white people would start a discussion with me, a woman
of African descent, by referring to someone or something they thought they knew
about another person of African descent, or about my culture. For example, in the 1980s folks would often mention someone they saw on television (or heard about), like Bill Cosby.

Those who thought of themselves as hip might lead off with a musical reference — “that Stevie Wonder is talented,” “Lena Horne sure looks good for her age.” And, of course, sports were also popular. People would feel free to initiate these discussions, but accepting for their limited knowledge of these folks from the media, their lives were not racially or ethnically diverse.

These conversations were always awkward for me and never satisfying. For years, I have denied this, but now that white people are a certified minority, I have devised a list of five subject areas white people should never bring up in conversation with people of color.

In no particular order, they are:

1. Color, Race and/or Ethnicity — White people, like people of color, are obsessed with it. (By the way, the term “people of color” is not literal. People of color come in various shades, tones, and hues.) We are aware of this. We don’t enjoy you putting your arm next to ours and remarking how you are darker than we are. The prejudice linked to being a person of color is not solely generated by the color of the skin. There are definitely some links, such as how police stop disproportionate numbers of people of color while driving or shopping. But many people of color are discriminated against even though they are not initially seen as a person of color. Most white people would not accept discrimination associated with being a person of color as a fair price to pay for being “exotic” and darker.

2. Hair — Another area considered exotic, and a reason for envy. Plus some white people must unconsciously believe that if you rub or touch our hair/head, you will have good luck. You can certainly admire my hair, but if you saw someone of your own race with a nice hair cut, you might compliment or ask where they got it done, but never would you touch it. I also get white people arguing with me about how I groom my hair, particularly after they have seen a documentary on the topic. If the terms “nappy,” “kitchen,” or even “Jew fro” are not from your particular culture, believe me, it is inappropriate and often insulting to approach someone from a different race or ethnicity and use these terms in reference to their hair.

3. Clothing —- A huge quagmire. Again, compliment the person just as you would if you saw a polo shirt in a color you like that was particularly flattering on the person. If you choose to wear clothing that is indigenous to another culture, you should not approach someone from that culture and initiate a conversation about how you now “look like them.” Remember the expression “a sheep in wolf’s clothing.” Clothing does not define your race or ethnicity. Nor should you question whether or not someone is wearing clothing associated with her culture.

4. Age — Many people will note that it is difficult to determine the age of people of color, in particular women. Many a comedian of color has made sexist and ageist jokes about white women. The aging process and its effects on looks are not attributes of race and ethnicity, but of a multitude of factors including genetics, luck and individual maintenance.

5. Class — Many a white person mistakenly assumes that all people of color came from a lower socio-economic background and live in their neighborhoods only because they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. The days of that Booker T. Washington mentality are over. The statement is ridiculous on its face. The reality is that race and/or ethnicity does not solely define us. But when we are initially approached in this way, the walls that divide us continue to grow. Stereotypes dehumanize people so we relate to one another as caricatures instead of human beings.

There are many ways to approach folk who are different without initially and awkwardly commenting on those differences. Differences have no intrinsic value. They are neither good nor bad, they just are. So if you wonder about the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in your life, could it be you are inadvertently dehumanizing and/or exoticizing folk rather than reaching out on a more basic human level?

As my late grandmother Lizzie used to say, the weather is always a safe topic of conversation and if that goes well, you can move on to another subject area.

(Source: The Huffington Post)

CNN circa 2011. #NeverForget

Vine User Blasts Employees Following Him Around Stores In Best Possible Way

While shopping in a series of convenience stores, Vine user Rashid Polo realized that something was up: the store employees around him were ostensibly hard at work, bending to rearrange products for sale, busying themselves with drink machines, but they kept popping up wherever he went.

This phenomenon was not a new experience for Polo, and no matter where he was or what he was doing, it seemed he was guilty of only one crime: shopping while black.

So he came up with the brilliant idea to catch the clerks on camera and uploaded the resulting videos to Vine.

"[The employee] been following me around the store the whole time," he explains in one, but before he can continue, his camera lens catches her close behind him once again.

"There she goes!" he says. "She thinks I’m stealing."

A number of African-Americans have experienced the perils of shopping while black, including a few very famous folks. President Barack Obama has shared stories aboutbeing followed in department stores when he was young. Last year, a Swiss clerkrefused to show Oprah Winfrey a handbag because it would “cost too much.”

But when people who aren’t presidents or media moguls are discriminated against, the incident tends to go on unchecked. But Polo’s vines put his experience — and the experiences of so many others — center stage, and he took to Twitter to say how happy he was his videos could make even the smallest difference.